Six tips for scoring cheap baseball tickets

Don't pay face value for baseball tickets: Go to a weekday day game, go early in the season--and more ways to save. 

Ben Margot/AP/April 17, 2015
Arizona Diamondbacks' Aaron Hill swings for a two-run double against the San Francisco Giants April 16. Find ways to buy affordable tickets to baseball games.

Baseball is back, and it's not just here for a cup of coffee--it'll be here for a while. From a money-saving standpoint, the greatest thing about baseball is the length of the season. With 162 games, you'll have plenty of chances throughout the year to see your favorite team.

In other words, there is no shortage of opportunities to score MLB tickets for well under face value.

Finding MLB tickets for less than full price has always been a little easier that other sports. There are two simple explanations for this:

  1. At 162 games per season, MLB season is twice as long as the NBA and NHL (which both clock in at 82 games per season), and it's about 10 times longer than the NFL (with 16 per season).
  2. MLB stadiums are large - most stadiums seat at least 40,000, so there are plenty of tickets available, even for the most popular teams.

With that in mind, you should never find yourself paying an arm and a leg for regular season MLB tickets. Here are some tricks to stretching your dollar the furthest and saving a few extra bucks for hot dogs.

1. Skip the advance sales

Most teams hold an advance sale before the season starts, usually in February or March. If this seems like a good way to get tickets before they're snatched up, you might want to reconsider. Many advance sales take advantage of die-hard fans by adding a surcharge on top of the ticket price--sometimes as much as 20 percent. Even for in-demand games, there will be at least a few tickets that aren't sold in the advance sale. Teams usually leave a set number of tickets available for both walk-up purchases and the team's online ticket center.

2. Brave The Elements

This tip works best in cold-weather cities--sorry, Padres fans. Because of inclement weather, season ticket holders and others who have tickets to April and May games tend to actually show up at a lower rate than in mid-summer. This means there are more tickets available, and because fewer buyers on the resale market are willing to sit through chilly weather, great tickets can be had for cheap.

For example, StubHub has Cubs vs. Reds tickets for 4/14 starting at just $7.50. That's less than the price of a hotdog. Another example: Red Sox vs. Nationals tickets on 4/15 are available for as low as $17, which is $4 under face value for the Outfield Grandstand section. Four dollars may not seem like the deepest discount, but considering Red Sox tickets often go for double face value in mid-summer, it's a bargain worth jumping on.

3. Attend A Weekday Day Game

This one boils down to supply and demand. More people are looking to attend games on the weekend, so prices rise, and there are also more people interested in attending night games during the week, so those are more expensive, too. If you can afford to take a day off work, attending a mid-week day game will save you plenty of money, and not just in ticket price. Often, parking rates will be lower as well.

Something else to keep in mind: According to QZ.com, the cheapest days to see a game are Tuesday and Wednesday. Friday and Saturday check in as the two most expensive days.

4. Avoid The Big-Name Teams

When buying a ticket to see your favorite team, avoid games when top rivals or big-name teams come to town. One easy rule of thumb is to avoid games where your team is hosting the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox, as both teams drive up ticket prices due to their large national fanbases. The Cubs, Cardinals and Giants also tend to drive up ticket prices.

5. Wait Until Day-Of-Game On The Resale Market

StubHubTicketmaster Ticket Exchange, and CheapTickets are all good places to find tickets at less than face value--if you know how to game the system. Season ticket holders use these sites to unload tickets to games they won't attend themselves. As game-day approaches, some sellers will drop the prices on their tickets in an effort to get something for them.

Your best bet for a cheap seat is to wait as long as possible before buying your ticket. Usually, a few hours before game-time is a good time to buy, although some sites - namely StubHub - will sell event tickets right up until first pitch.

6. Befriend A Season Ticket Holder

It isn't always possible, but befriending a season ticket holder will go a long way toward securing a steady supply of cheap tickets. Season ticket holders purchase tickets in packages - some own tickets to all 81 of a team's home games, but many others own 12, 30, or 50 game packages, and even those who own smaller packages have a hard time attending every game.

This is where you come in. Go to your season ticket-holding friend and ask which games he isn't going to, then offer to buy the tickets. It'll save both of you some money. The seller won't have to spend time listing tickets on a resale site and will save some money on seller fees. You'll also save money on fees (StubHub charges 10% per MLB ticket) and, if you're lucky, score the occasional free ticket.

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